Saturday, August 16, 2014

The theory behind sexual abstinence in the internal arts

“100 days foundation building (百日筑基)” is a common saying among internal practices that advocate the necessity of doing micro-cosmic circulation as a foundation practice. Despite differences in the practice method, during this period, sexual abstinence has oftentimes been said to be an essential requirement. So much so many said that lest there will be a leakage of chi and the practitioner has to do the 100 days again (poor guy, who can’t control his sexual urge for 100 days). Recently I came across a Shalin Nei kung book published by a lineage of Shalin monks in Mainland China (nowadays they on regular students to be lineage students and gave them Buddhist title 法號). The author, a lineage holder, disclosed that there are also such practices in Shaolin. It seems that such method is quite prevalent in internal martial arts, if not all of them spoken out as such publicly.

No pain no gain. As most athletes believe it to be so. But what is the rationale behind. What is wrong with letting our natural urge finds its natural way?

It is interesting to note that in classic text of Taoist meditation (for example the famous Taoist Yoga translated into English by Buddhist Charles Luk) there is a common assertion “The natural way turns into man, the opposite way turns into Immortal”. A riddle (like Zen riddles) that has been puzzling many readers and practitioners for generations. What is the natural way and what is the opposite way?

Like every “secret” of the internal arts, one has to turn to empirical evidence. In other words, only practitioner who has the experience of the practice process can possibly understand what the classics were talking about. Hence what you are going to read below will be an “opinion” if you have no such experience, but if you have practiced the art in any meaningful way, probably under a tutelage of a learned practitioner, you would probably say “So THAT is what the classics are talking about! (irrespective of whether you agree with it or not, at least you know what I am talking about)” Hence I am not disclosing a secret, which cannot be disclose anyway without proper initiation, but simply pointing out an empirical fact that practitioners might not notice previously.

Before I confuse you further, the gist of the simple empirical fact is as follows:

Irrespective your training method, the first objective in your training is to build up chi in your lower abdomen: from the Dantian (a point a few inches behind your belly button) downwards to your pelvic floor muscles and backward to your kidney. When such chi energy is built up to a certain magnitude, your lower abdomen will have a burning sensation (the classics mentioned the burning sensation in your kidneys as an empirical evidence to seek for). In chakra terminology, you have opened your chakra(s) there (whatever name your particular lineage names the chakra(s). When you progress further, the powerful chi accumulated in your lower abdomen will try to seek an outlet. When it is blocked at the pelvic floor, it will rise up and move the diaphragm, which initially can absorb some chi. As more chi builds up the diaphragm will bounce back the chi. In chakra terminology, the heart chakra is not opened and therefore chi cannot pass through (the heart charka cannot be opened by chi coming up alone, chi has to come three-dimensionally).

Now different systems will have different methods. To do what? To open the spinal cord to allow the compressed (and powerful) chi to go up the spinal cord. It is the “moment” in practising microcosmic circulation in Taoist meditation, the details of which I will not go into here. Instead I will like to point out a practice of opening the spinal cord through pure physical means: it is jumping up and falling down on one’s buttock with crossed legs, as in “flying” of TM or some Tibetan practice.

How does this related to sexual abstinence? When the pressure is high around our groin area, physical pressure will arouse our sexual instinct (and in seated meditation, erection may arise in some practitioners). Such feeling may become unbearable, seeking a natural release (and a practitioner’s otherwise calm mind will be disturbed). If a practitioner follows his natural instinct, his internal pressure will be released. If however, he can make use of this internal pressure to open his spinal cord (with any method including the TM one mentioned above), he can both got his internal pressure released AND move a step forward in his practice. Once his strongly compressed chi can be channeled to go up his spinal cord, it is easy for him to move it down the front part of his body and back to his abdomen. With success and successive (powerful) microcosmic circulation, he is now ready to open his heart chakra.

PS: Is it necessary to do so? Judge it by yourself.


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